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Despite suffering a puncture in the final 20km, McLay proved his impressive speed by beating Bouhanni in the bunch sprint at the GP de la Somme; Yssaad finished third

Photo: A.S.O.

GP DE LA SOMME

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS

NACER BOUHANNI

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
22.05.2016 @ 19:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One month after his win at the GP de Denain, Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) again proved that he is a future top sprinter by winning the GP de la Somme. Despite suffering a puncture inside the final 20km, the Brit beat no less of a figure than Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) in the bunch sprint after a wet and hard race while Yannis Yssaad (Armee) rounded out the podium.

 

In the middle of April, Daniel McLay suddenly became a household name in the cycling world. His impressive sprint that allowed him to win the GP de Denain – known as the French championships for sprinters – got a lot of attention on social media as he came from far back with an impressive turn of speed to pass some of the best sprinters in the world to take the biggest win of his career.

 

Since then, McLay has disappeared a bit from the radar but he was back in action last weekend at the Tour de Picardie. Here he was up there in the sprint on stage 2 where he finished second behind Nacer Bouhanni.

 

After the race, McLay had been frustrated as he felt that he had had the legs to win and so he was determined to get his revenge in today’s GP de la Somme one-day race where he again faced Nacer Bouhanni as his biggest rival. This time he made no mistake as he managed to beat the French star to take the second big victory of his season.

 

The win was made even more impressive by the fact that the sprint came at the end of a very hard race where it had taken almost two hours for the early break to be formed and the peloton had been split to pieces in the rainy conditions. Furthermore, McLay even punctured at the bottom of the final climb with less than 20km to go and he was even up against a formidable Cofidis train that gave Bouhanni a great lead-out.

 

The 31st edition of the GP de la Somme was on a 195.8km course that brought the riders from Dury to Albert. The first 90.3km were not overly difficult as they only include two categorized climbs and brought the the riders from the start to the finish. Having crossed the line for the first time, the riders did two laps of a 25.8km circuit that included a small climb while the final part of the race was made up of a bigger 26.9km circuit that included another small ascent with 18.6km to go. From there it was a lumpy run back to the finish..

 

Light rain was failing when the riders gathered for the start and they were ready to fight as the race had often been won by a successful breakaway. Hence, it was a bit of a surprise that Michael Vingerling (Team 3M), Rudy Barbier (Roubaix Lille Métropole), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energy) and Kévin Reza (FDJ) managed to get a 50-second advantage right from the start.

 

Yann Guyot (Armee ) and Jan Petelin (Team Differdange-Losch) bridged the gap before the peloton finally reacted. At the 6km mark, the gap was reduced to 30 seconds but the chase was briefly interrupted by a crash that involved Romain Feillu (Auber 93), Gaetan Bille (Wanty) and Jeremy Leveau (Roubaix). The former two had to abandon.

 

When the gap was down to 10 seconds, five riders tried to bridge across but it all came back together. Instead Nico Denz (Ag2r), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Kevin Lebreton (Armee), Julien Morice (Direct Energie), Alo Jakin (Auber 93), Jaap De Man (3M) managed to build a 12-second advantage but that move was neutralized too.

 

Le Bon won the first intermediate sprint as riders were getting dropped in the hilly terrain. The peloton quickly split into four and after a regrouping, two groups were left when they hit the first climb.

 

Ag2r did the damage in the first group before Flavien Dassonville (Auber 93) beat Barbier and Francois Bidard (Ag2r) in the first KOM sprint. More splits were created as they headed down the descent where Direct Energie took over.

 

Three riders escaped and when four riders joined the move, Denz (Ag2r), Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ), Maxime Cam (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Romain Le Roux (Armee), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix) and Olivier Chevalier (Wallonie) formed a seven-rider break. At the same time, Bouhanni punctured and Jerome Cousin had to work hard to bring him back.

 

A second peloton was still trying to rejoin the 30-rider first group that was 15 seconds behind the front septet and they made the junction just as Bouhanni also got back. Meanwhile, the break was caught.

 

Cesar Bihel (Auber 93) tried a solo move before a crash split the peloton into three groups. Bidard, Le Roux and Piotr Havik (3M) were among the riders to go down.

 

17 riders escaped and put 15 seconds into the peloton before three riders made it a 20-rider group. However, Cofidis managed to bring things back together as they hit the second climb.

 

While Guillaume Thevenot (Direct Energie) beat Cedric Pineau (FDJ) and Yann Guyot (Armee) in the KOM sprint, Bouhanni suffered a second puncture. Again he had to work hard to get back.

 

Thevenot and Pineau used the climb to get clear and got an 18-second advantage before Dassonville joined the move. The gap went out from 10 to 20 seconds.

 

Lebreton, Gregory Habeaux (Wallonie), Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) and Jeremy Leveau (Roubaix) took off in pursuit before the peloton decided to take a natural break. While the two escape groups merged, they pushed the gap out to 1.45 as they crossed the finish line for the first time, with Thevenot beating Habeaux and Daniel in the intermediate sprint.

 

Cofidis quickly took control and allowed the gap to go out to 2.30. Meanwhile, the rain stopped but the roads were still slippery and so Julien Loubet, Benoit Jarrier and one of their Fortuneo-Vital Concept teammates crashed in a roundabout, forcing the former two to abandon.

 

Dassonville won the third KOM sprint ahead of Thevenot and Pineau before they headed back to the finish line where Cofidis had reduced the gap to 1.55. It was still 1.50 when Dassonville beat Lebreton and Leveay in the fourth KOM sprint and it had gone down to 1.40 at the next passage of the line with 54km to go. Dassonville won the intermediate sprint ahead of Thevenot and Lebreton.

 

Wanty came to the fore to lend Cofidis and hand and during the next seven kilometres, they brought the gap down to 1.15. When Dassonville beat Thevenot and Pineau in the fifth KOM sprint, it had even dropped to less than a minut.

 

Dassonville decided to take off in a solo move and managed to push the gap out to 1.30 before being caught by the rest of the break. Meanwhile, Wanty and Cofidis reduced the gap to 1.15 as they approached the finish again.

 

While rain started to fall, the escapees failed to cooperate and so the gap was down to 55 seconds as they entered final 25km after having crossed the line for the penultimate time. Dassonville took off and was joined by Pineau, Theveot and Daniel while Leveau, Habeaux and Lebreton were caught, with Habeaux having suffered an untimely puncture

 

The front group hit the final climb with an advantage of 35 seconds over the peloton which was still led by Cofidis and Wanty. Meanhilw, Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) and McLay had to work hard to get back after they both suffered untimely punctures.

 

Dassonville beat Pineau and Daniel in the final KOM sprint and the quartet worked well together to keep a 20-second advantage as they entered the final 12km. They had reason to believe in their chances when Kenny Dehaes punctured as this forced Wanty to stop their work to bring their captain back to the peloton.

 

With 10km to go, it was over tough and instead defending champion Quentin Jauregui, Bidard (both Ag2r) and Le Bon (FDJ) took off. They managed to get a 5-second advantage but failed to hold off the peloton.

 

Cofidis were at the head of the field as they entered the final 5km before Direct Energie took over. However, they had bad luck as their sprinter Boudat suffered a puncture and so they disappeared from the front.

 

Cofidis led the peloton under the flamme rouge and everything seemed to be on track for a Bouhanni victory. However, the big favourite had to settle for second ad McLay turned out to be the fastest, with Yannis Yssaad rounding out the podium.

 

With the GP de la Somme done and dusted, the attention turns back to the Coupe de France series. Next weekend the riders will tackle the GP Plumelec on Saturday and the Boucles de l’Aulne on Sunday, making it an important time for riders chasing overall victory in the series.

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